From BoingBoing: “42-year-old Michael Allison of Illinois could spend the rest of his life in prison for recording police in public. He faces five counts of eavesdropping, a class one felony”. That’s the equivalent of rape.
This is absolutely crazy. How law-abiding and tax-paying citizens (who pay for the police) can be harassed for wanting to make on-duty police officers accountable for their actions is beyond understanding. All one has to do is look at the sheer quantity of illegal police behaviour (and more), to see why the free recording of police officers is so absolutely necessary; both for the public’s protection and sometimes the police officers’.
The definition of eavesdropping is “to listen secretly to the private conversation of others”, in this case the police not only
knew they were being recorded (edit: allegedly, if recent reports are true, officers were NOT aware they were being recorded, which is what landed Allison in hot water), but it was a conversation between them and Michael Allison. If police officers are allowed to record audio or video of the public with impunity, the public should be allowed to record the police going about their official duties. 75 years for recording on-duty police officers doesn’t even pass the guffaw test for me, a sensible jury will never convict him, if this ever even goes to court – END OF STORY.
[Updated 7/9/11] If recent reports are true, Michael Allison may also have been stupid as well as unlucky. Apparently he covertly recorded court proceedings (which is definitely illegal), and then lied about it to the judge (also illegal), which is how he ended up with all the additional counts of eavesdropping.
Watch the video below for the full story, it’s a great summary.